Proverbs 17:8

Bribes Work!


1. This proverb is helpful and instructive when properly applied.

2. However, it can also be dangerous because it can easily be abused.

3. It is wise for us to be reminded once again that we are in the book of PROVERBS… and proverbs are little nuggets of truth.

a. They are not essays.

b. They are not the final word on a subject.

c. They don’t discuss the truth from every angle.

d. Every one is different. Some are pregnant with meaning. Others make a simple statement.

e. They are all designed to make us THINK.

4. This proverb simply makes a statement: Bribes work!

8a A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it:

1. A “gift”

a. A gift; a present; a bribe.

b. Zodhiates: It refers to what is given in a situation to influence persons to act or think in a certain way they would not normally.

c. It was often given to pervert justice in the court system of Israel… and the USA… and every other nation.

d. The perversion of justice through bribes was a major downfall of Israel (1 Sam. 8:3).

e. Throughout Proverbs, the word for gift is used of a BRIBE.

f. Some might apply this passage to a husband giving flowers to his wife to win her heart… but that does not seem to be the way the term is used in Proverbs. It is a bribe… with an evil connotation. (Cf. vs.23)

g. Bribes were and are very much an accepted part of the way business is done in many parts of the world.

h. It is considered more or less like giving a tip to a waiter… only these “tips” or “gifts” are given to public servants: like tax collectors, customs officials, politicians… greasing the palms to get what you want!

2. A “precious stone”

a. Precious: favour; grace; charm; an act or object which gains a favorable response, because it is beautiful to see or hear.

b. Solomon is speaking about a precious stone (like a diamond) that “charms” all those who see it.

c. A stone like a diamond or other precious stone has the power of charm… the power to dazzle…

d. It therefore has the power to influence… and thus be used to manipulate and influence others.

3. “In the eyes of him that hath it.”

a. The first part of this proverb is looking at the issue of bribes from the perspective of the one MAKING the bribe.

b. He has MONEY… diamonds… wealth.

c. The main point of this part of the proverb is that many wealthy people see in their money, not just the power to purchase products… but the power to purchase INFLUENCE… to purchase people… and manipulate others.

d. In their eyes, their money is viewed as having the power of charm… to charm other people into thinking or acting the way they want them to.

e. A bribe could consist of a major political gift or present to another king or nation, a glorified bribe (1 Kgs. 15:19).

f. A bribe could be used on a much smaller scale too… smaller pawns in politics too… not just kings.

g. We don’t have to look very far to realize the influence of bribes… Washington DC gives us a nearly unlimited supply of examples!

h. Political decisions are influenced by the giving of such “gifts” (trips to Hawaii; fancy dinners; golfing vacations; etc.)

i. It’s called influence peddling.

8b Whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.

1. The main point of this part of the proverb is that bribes WORK! They are extremely effective in accomplishing their goals…

a. Wherever the bribe goes, it prospers… it accomplishes its goal. (Prospers = is successful)

b. “Prospereth” is used in Josh. 1:8 – for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success.

c. Bribes bring success to those who use them effectively.
• Rich men use bribes like a diamond to dazzle people.
• Rich men see their “diamonds” as more than a pretty ornament. They understand the POWER it can have over others.
• Money gets people to move, to vote, to act, to think, and do whatever else the giver of the bribe wants them to do.
• Wealthy people KNOW this and use it to their own selfish advantage.
• Matthew Henry noted a popular proverb of his day: the deepest bag will carry the cause.
• Today we say, Money talks.

d. Other proverbs say the same thing: they are effective! (Prov. 18:16; 19:6; 21:14) They work like a charm!

e. There are countless examples there are of men who were influenced by the lure of money to one degree or another:
• From athletes bribed into throwing a game… to rogue politicians whose votes are purchased by corporations… to Judas!

2. This does NOT mean God condones bribery.

a. In fact, the Bible very clearly CONDEMNS bribery.

b. Prov. 17:23; Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19;

c. The person who took a bribe was cursed by God (Deut. 27:25).

d. Knowing what God really thinks about bribes, a believer should never OFFER a bribe to anyone to get our way.

e. And knowing how “charming” they can be, we should never FALL for a bribe.

3. Trying to influence people is not necessarily wrong.

a. Evangelism is an attempt to influence people! Bible teaching… is designed to influence people’s thinking… and actions.

b. But there is a RIGHT way to influence people and a wrong way.

c. The RIGHT way is by example and REASON… teaching… instruction… explaining, comparing, etc.

d. The WRONG way is through bribes of any sort. (Whether you are promised a diamond, a cushy job, a lush vacation, or a cut of the pie, or some other “gift.”)

e. Bribes pervert justice… they prevent the right thing from being done.

f. When bribes are used, the best idea or right concept does not prevail.

g. Instead, the best FUNDED idea prevails…

h. And the best funded idea, concept, or project is not always the best choice.

4. Perhaps we could make another interesting observation about this proverb.

a. The truth conveyed is that bribes work.

b. From the rest of Scripture, it is exceedingly clear that although bribes work and are effective, they are NOT approved of God.

c. Principle: just because something WORKS, that does not mean that the Lord approves it!

d. Some years ago a Christian University sent me a letter asking for the names of our high school seniors and if I sent the names along, I would be included in a small pool of names to win a trip to Europe.
• I wrote back and said, “Thank you but the names of our young people are not for sale.”
• They were using a “gift” to get what they wanted from me… to influence me to send them what they wanted.
• I’m sure that technique worked—and they probably got more names than they would have without the drawing.

e. Would to God that the church growth folks would learn from this principle.
• In their obsession to see churches grow, they have resorted to methodologies that may WORK… but are not be acceptable to God.
• They ignore the doctrine of separation—and it works.
• Some promise those who come that God will make them rich and healthy! And it works.
• The promise of such a “gift” draws great crowds.
• It works… but the end does NOT justify the means.

5. Solomon was an observer of human nature.

a. As king, who did business with other kings and the nobility (men of great wealth)… this is something he observed repeatedly: men use bribes to influence others and get what they want.

b. Wealthy men realize how INFLUENTIAL their wealth is and they use that to influence to get what they want.

c. This proverb is the record of what he observed: bribes work.

d. He observed that wealthy men who offer bribes understand the POWER their diamonds can have over others.

e. Another part of human nature Solomon observed those who RECEIVE bribes:
• How often and how easily men who love money are INFLUENCED by money.
• They will think, vote, say, or do almost ANYTHING when a diamond is dangled before their eyes.

f. It is not an approval of bribes… either giving or taking them.

g. It is simply an observation of human nature and human behavior.

6. If our hearts are right with God, we will neither OFFER a bribe nor TAKE a bribe.

a. To the believer who loves the Lord, we are motivated by something higher and nobler than gold and silver…

b. We should be led of the Spirit… not by silver, gold, and precious stones!